Hello Dear Readers,
Welcome back to regular blogging. I will do my best to be consistent about this…
But, to the business at hand. I was seeing red yesterday after Elizabeth May was excluded from the official debates. Not only did I find the tactics used by the parties to exclude her as petty and completely undemocratic, but I also found their willingness to cooperate on such a matter despicable. If only they could compromise this well when the house was in session; perhaps then we might have a government rather than an election campaign. I am also heartbroken by May’s exclusion, because, once again, there will be no woman’s voice on the national stage. Regardless of May’s so-called liberal blood, excluding a party whose voice represents part of the Canadian people (4.5% at last count), and that receives funding through the mechanisms of our voting system–$1.25 per vote–is completely unjustified. In fact, coupled with Harper’s re-invigoration of non-fixed election dates, it only reinforces, to my mind, the need for a more transparent PMO’s office. Aside from the fact that fixed election dates work against our system of responsible government, they apparently do very little to enforce cooperation between parties.
Returning to Ms. May’s dilemma, I can’t help but wonder how May and the Greens could challenge this ‘act’. Given the consortium of networks who excluded her (officially, that is, Jack Layton’s endorsement of her pseudo-liberal leanings is still unclear) are not a government agency, this makes May’s recourse to legal action more difficult. And, at a time like this, the party does not need to be held up in the marginalia of the law. While this is certainly a violation of the charter’s provision for “freedom of speech”, I wonder what provoking a legal battle might do. Would it then make our elections even nastier than before?
But I return to the exclusion of women’s voices from the national stage. When I interviewed May two years ago for Antigone’s second issue, I was struck by her eloquence and conviction, something the current campaign wars should take a cue from. In my opinion, politics needs to smarten up; dumbing down election strategies leads to back-door tactics, like May’s exclusion, which then become the norm rather than the exception. Parties need to set a standard of intelligent, respectful debate; small parties have a role disproportionate to their size because of their marginal status. As a presence outside the fray, they can act as ‘truth’ tellers whose voices are unencumbered by the socialization affected by party discipline. Shutting ms. May out is not only a blow to women’s political advocacy, but also a statement about the ineffectiveness of a political climate which has become more and more like a two party system…
Playground campaign tactics (read the puffin ad) are completely unacceptable. So is not saying anything. I for one want to see May’s voice heard.
May’s statement on the matter:
“This is anti-democratic, closed-door, backroom decision-making by four national party leaders who are all men and five television executives — who are all men — to keep out the one woman leader of a federal party,” Ms. May told reporters on Parliament Hill, where she responded Monday to the announcement that she will not be invited to the debates.
“And I don’t think many Canadians will think that was fair.”
I certainly don’t, do you?